This guide explains the different Logic Pro X Compressor emulations and explores the history behind each model’s analog counterpart.
Logic Pro X Compressor
One of the best feature improvements introduced in Logic Pro X is the redesigned Compressor plugin. The new Logic Pro X Compressor features six analog circuit types that emulate legendary hardware compressors.
This guide breaks down each of the different emulations as well as offers insight into why their hardware counterparts are so revered.
This model is Logic Pro’s native digital compressor. It has a very transparent sound, and the transient response is clean and fast. Furthermore, the Platinum Digital works great on just about any sound. There is also a distortion option to add some grit whenever you want the precision of a digital compressor and color of analog hardware.
The Studio VCA is an emulation of the Focusrite Red 3 Dual Compressor/Limiter.
The Focusrite Red range is famous for its ability to maintain a natural sound, even when pushing the compression hard. This emulation is fully discrete and balanced, meaning it’s very clean sounding and doesn’t color the sound like other analog compressors.
The Studio VCA model works great on the mix bus as well as bass, vocals, and guitars because of its fast and tight response. Both compression and limiting also offer peak response rather than averaging RMS which ensures a superb transient response. Although the Studio VCA sounds transparent, you can give your sounds more analog vibe with distortion control.
The Red 3 is a dual mono/stereo compressor/limiter that hit the markets in 1994. It features a single-VCA design to achieve high quality and truly independent compression and limiting. Its success earned the Red 3 a TEC award for Outstanding Technical Achievement in the Signal Processing Technology category. To this day, it remains among Focusrite’s most prosperous and recognizable hardware products. It’s also the choice compressor for many of the world’s finest mix engineers such as Chris Lord-Alge, who religiously place’s his Red 3 on the mix bus.
I always put finished, stereo mixes through the Focusrite. It pulls the mix together a bit. I call that ‘kissing the Focusrite.
Tom Lord-Alge, Grammy Award-winning Recording/Mixing Engineer
The Studio FET emulates the UREI/Universal Audio 1176 Rev E “Blackface” Compressor/Limiter.
Renowned for lending its character and punch to some of the greatest recordings in history, the 1176 is a favorite among producers and engineers. It’s lightning-fast attack and release times are ideal for taming drums, enhancing bass or guitars, and bringing vocals to the front of the mix.
The Studio FET’s aggressive sound delivers a sense of “energy” that adds brightness and presence to anything that runs through it. When driven hard, it adds some in-your-face edge making it widely used as a drum compressor.
The 1176 also has a very distinctive sound even when it is not compressing because of its unique circuitry. Some run audio through the 1176 with the compression turned off, just for the desirable tone it imparts.
UA founder Bill Putnam Sr. designed the original Universal Audio 1176 compressor in 1967. The first revision represented a breakthrough in limiter technology because it was the first true peak limiter to feature all-transistor circuitry and ultra-fast FET gain reduction. The design of the unit also went through numerous changes over the decades.
The Rev E “Blackface” revision earned the “LN” (Low Noise) badge after UREI’s Brad Plunkett lowered the noise level, increased linearity, and made other changes.
The Classic VCA model emulates the DBX 160 line of compressors/limiters.
Considered one of the best drum compressors ever, the original dbx 160 has a proven track record. It’s famous for its vintage character, aggressive punch, and simplicity. The compressors tight and fast response makes it a perfect tool for crushing groups and buses or injecting subtle fatness to everything from guitars to vocals.
Use the Classic VCA to inject a warm and grainy punch to your sounds. It’s highly effective for beefing up bass, synths, guitars, and especially drums. It’s known for bringing out the ‘knock’ and ‘thwack’ of drum sounds – especially on kicks, snares, and claps. Also, try loading this model on an aux track and driving sounds through it to apply parallel compression.
Introduced in 1971, the fast-acting and ultra-musical dbx 160 lended a hand on almost every major recording in the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s. Later models in the 160 series also became industry standards still widely used today. The dbx 160 is legendary for its simple control set, classic hard-knee compression, and nonlinearities not found in other VCA compressors.
The Vintage VCA model emulates the legendary SSL G Bus Compressor.
Based on the renowned master bus center compressor of the SSL 4000 G console, the SSL G Bus Compressor excels at making mixes bigger, more powerful, and punchy, while also enhancing cohesion and clarity.
Prized by top engineers for its ability to “glue together” tracks, the SSL G Bus Compressor is ideal for adding punch to drums and percussion or taming piano dynamics. However, its real magic shines when loaded on bus tracks, especially the master bus. For this reason, load the Vintage VCA on your master and hear your mix come alive!
Considered to be the “Holy Grail” bus compressor, the SSL G has transformed the music recording industry since its introduction in the ’80s. This celebrated compressor is famous for its ability to make a mix louder and punchier while imparting a modern-sounding cohesiveness that has shaped the sound of more hit records than any other since its inception. From subtle and transparent dynamic control to more aggressive textures with peak limiting, the SSL G’s intuitive control set lets you quickly dial in what you need with ease.
The Vintage FET model emulates the UREI 1176 Rev H “Silverface” Compressor/Limiter.
Famed for lending its character and punch to some of the greatest recordings in history, the 1176 has become an essential tool found in nearly every professional studio. It’s lightning-fast attack and release times are ideal for taming drums, enhancing bass or guitars, and making vocals shine.
The Vintage FET’s aggressive sound delivers a sense of “energy” that adds brightness and presence to anything that runs through it. When driven hard, it can add some desired edge to your drums.
The 1176 also has a very distinctive sound even when it is not compressing because of its unique circuitry. Some run audio through the 1176 with the compression turned off, just for the analog tone it imparts.
UA founder Bill Putnam Sr. designed the original Universal Audio 1176 compressor in 1967. The first revision represented a breakthrough in limiter technology because it was the first true peak limiter to feature all-transistor circuitry and ultra-fast FET gain reduction. Additionally, the design of the unit went through numerous changes over the decades.
The Rev H “Silverface” revision retains much of the signature sound from its predecessors. The biggest difference is a silver faceplate, a red “Off’ button, and a blue UREI logo.
The Vintage Opto model emulates the Teletronix LA-2A Optical Compressor.
For over 50 years the Teletronix LA-2A has been revered for its smooth, natural, musical compression. Top artists, engineers, and producers prize its ability to work its magic on anything you throw at it. However, the LA-2A is most famous for treating vocals. It’s difficult to make the LA-2A sound bad!
Vintage Opto has some personality. Apply subtle transparent compression or push it hard to introduce sizzling overdrive that sounds amazing on bass, drums, and guitars.
First introduced in 1965, the iconic Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier fast become a studio staple heard on countless hit records. Famous for its subtle, alluring, and warming qualities, the original LA-2A’s tube-driven electro-optical attenuation circuits was revolutionary for its time. Also, it’s fast attack, and “two-stage” release offers a characteristic more transparent than the other compressors of its day.
Teletronix founder Jim Lawrence first used photocells for controlling audio gain in an innovative way. His ingenious optical compression design was a technological breakthrough, far surpassing the stability and transparency of earlier circuits. Universal Audio founder Bill Putnam Sr. later purchased this patented technology and continued to manufacture the LA-2A until 1969.
To this day, the LA-2A continues to captivate new generations of retro-seeking enthusiasts. Moreover, it’s simple control set, and sonic appeal makes it the most famed tube compressor ever made.